Today’s review is of a collection of books of classic Disney stories produced by Studio Press and Disney – and boy, are they gorgeous.
It’s taken me a while to get to reviewing these books, and I feel horrified about it because, believe me, they are a treasure to behold. Each has an introduction by a member of staff working for Disney Studios and why that particular book and film means so much to them, so immediately you have a personal touch. What follows is the story of the film, illustrated with an assortment of sketches, animation stills and final shots – some of which have never been seen before.
The artistry that has gone into these books is astounding. Although classified as children’s books, these would be perfect for any Disney fans of any ages. Arguably, adults familiar with the films, perhaps from their own childhood, would reap the most benefit from these as they will best be able to understand the progression that has taken place, from initial concept through to pencil drawings and final animation. For example, The Little Mermaid was first considered around 50 years before the film was eventually made, and the initial drawings by an earlier artist were discovered and used as an influence in the final artwork. In this way, the books are not just stories but art history in themselves especially as, at the end, there are short biographies of the various artists who made each film possible. Take a look at these and see what I mean:
Sketches from The Little Mermaid
Most people have a Disney favourite. It’s hard for me to pick one but I really remember my mother taking me to see Sleeping Beauty at the movies when I was young and being entranced by the colours and the beauty and also terrified by the dark violence of Maleficent. The thorns that surrounded Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and the prince hacking his way through only to be met by the monstrous witch turned into a dragon terrified me. These films had the power to enchant and absorb me and it’s lovely to see them reproduced and recorded in books for future generations.
Images from Sleeping Beauty